January 1 deadline for fake cell phone users

Counterfeit phone dealers can be fined up to Dh1,000,000

Is your mobile fake? If so, it’s time to change the handset as the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) has joined hands with UAE telecoms to disconnect service to duplicate handsets from January 1, 2012.

Both etisalat and du have said its services to such handsets would be suspended. In a new campaign to raise awareness and discourage the use of fake mobile phones in the UAE, TRA has also threatened to fine dealers involved in such trade.

According to Article 74 of the UAE Telecommunications Law anyone found manufacturing or supplying telecommunications apparatus that does not comply with the regulations, to be used within the state, can be penalised with a fine of anything between Dh50,000 and Dh1,000,000.

The decision could see an end to several dozen mobile phone dealers specifically operating out of the Dragon Mart in Dubai. Most of them sell counterfeit phones of popular models including Nokia, Blackberry and Samsung.

A fake BlackBerry Bold can be obtained for just Dh600, while a Samsung model with Wifi and all applications preloaded is being sold anywhere between Dh400 to Dh800.

Mobile users have also been warned of health risks following the use of handsets that have been released into the market without proper tests and checks.

According to the TRA, fake phones are especially prone to battery leaks or explosions, releasing highly corrosive or poisonous chemicals. The low quality assembly also means radiation levels go unchecked, the batteries tend to drain faster, and signal reception is usually much weaker.

TRA Director-General Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim said issues of counterfeiting and piracy have a tremendous impact on the economy and intellectual property rights.

“Fake mobile phones are also low quality devices that have been manufactured without the proper tests and checks. In addition to performance issues, the use of such devices could have a significant impact on personal health and safety,” he said.

Those involved in the sale of fake mobile phones will be given a notice and a fine, while in some cases licenses could be withheld as a consequence of regulations not being met.

Both etisalat and du customers have been urged to SMS their International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) of their mobile phones to a specially created short code ‘8877’. The IMEI code will be displayed on most mobile handsets by dialing *#06#.

Customers using a counterfeit device with a fake IMEI number will receive an SMS message notifying them of the same, and all telecom services, including calls, texts and internet will be disconnected.

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